Over the last few days a social experiment took place. Tech blogger Andy Baio called it the “most wonderful thing online now”, it shot to the top of BBC and The Guardians most read articles, there is even an XKCD comic about. Meanwhile I’m messing around with Twitter thinking about how it’s closed data model is creating more businesses around closed data models.

The whole thing had flown me right by, I mean I had some awareness something  was going on, but I wasn’t paying attention, and now I’ve missed it. I went to a conference last week on Gaming for Social change and it wasn’t mentioned there; I work in an environment which we call “education technology” and it wasn’t on my radar. I was too busy messing with Twitter lists.

The social experiment in question was “Twitch plays Pokémon” and involved around an estimated 658,000 people. The idea is simple; a single game of Pokemon is played in a chatroom (on Twitch) Players tell the game what they want it to do. It took 400+ hours for them to finish what is a 10ish hour game; the responses, memes, cartoons and work that came from the experiment are amazing and spreading around the Internet like wildfire.

I haven’t made sense out of what has gone on here, but I know it’s important. I know that it is based around play, communication, technology and learning, I know its based around all the things in education that I think matter. I’m annoyed because all those things are important to me and the kids just went and did it while I was too busy thinking about ways to get kids to go and do it.

I think the key is that in such a short amount of time players have gone away and created content around the activity. I am particularly a fan of the cult of the Helix fossil. If one single thing my institution did got that much participation around an online learning activity the world would end, yet it was so.. simple!

Here is a video of some captures of the game in action:

There is another game starting in 23 hours. Maybe I’ll work it all out then.


Tom Harding · March 3, 2014 at 3:58 pm

First I’ve heard about this and I’m sat in my office chair chuckling at the Know Your Meme page for this. – http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/events/twitch-plays-pokemon

“Despite the obvious downsides to doing so, the majority of users chose to get Eevee. They then failed to buy a Water Stone, accidentally buying a Fire Stone and evolving Eevee into Flareon. After going to the PC to deposit it, they accidentally released “ABBBBBBK(” (a.k.a. Abby) the Charmeleon and “JLVWNNOOOO” (a.k.a. Jay Leno) the Rattata. They also put Pidgeot, the highest-level Pokémon on the team, and the Helix Fossil into the PC, although both were later retrieved. Because the source of all this was Eevee, it soon became known as a “false prophet” and servant of the Dome Fossil, an item that was viewed as Satan. A day later, Flareon was released as well. Four days later, the stream acquired a Lapras nicknamed AIIIIIIRRR, thus having a Pokémon that could learn Surf, and ending the debate.”

Just amazing. I love the internet.

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